How fostering works

There can be many reasons why children or young people are unable to live with their family including:

  • Family breakdown
  • Bereavement
  • Abandonment and neglect
  • Abuse

Fostering offers children and young people an opportunity to live with a safe, stable and caring family at a time when they are unable to live with their own. It can be one of the most purposeful, rewarding, life-changing things you could do for them.

Fostering age ranges

We need foster parents to look after children and young people of all ages. This can range from babies to teenagers.


Babies and young children who cannot return to their parents tend to be placed for adoption but will be fostered during a transition period, until suitable adopters are found. If you want to foster a baby, you will also need to be open to other types of fostering, like toddlers or children of primary school age.


In Wandsworth, more foster parents are needed for older children and siblings. We know that this presents different challenges in the support needed to care for them. This is reflected in the higher fees and allowances we pay to carers of those aged 11 to 18.

Placing a child or young person

You cannot choose your foster child. However, we will always discuss and agree on the children who will best fit in with your family and skillset. During our assessment process, we will work with you to identify your strengths and capacity to help ensure you are well matched with your child.

What you will know about your child

We aim to share as much information about your potential foster child as possible, however in some situations like emergencies, we may only have basic information due to the child having to be moved very quickly. As with other aspects of foster care, the specifics depend on an individual child's circumstances.

Types of fostering

Fostering can be reasonably flexible and there are a number of ways you can do it. It depends on the foster child’s needs, and your choices and circumstances.

Short term

In many instances, fostering is a temporary arrangement. You look after children for a few weeks up to two years while plans are made for their future.

We will work with the child and their family support to resolve the issues which led to them needing to be looked after.


You give a child somewhere safe to stay for a few nights. This is usually unplanned and you could get less than 24 hours’ notice.

Long term

You foster a particular child who cannot go back to their birth family and where adoption may not be appropriate. Usually, you’ll be permanently matched as their foster parent until they’re 18 years old.

Family Link short breaks

You care for children with disabilities or special educational needs while their parents have an overnight break.


You look after a child who may sometimes have additional needs or trauma-based behaviours. This can be for a weekend or up to a couple weeks while their usual foster carer has a break.


You look after, usually young mothers and their babies, supporting them to care for their babies and develop good parenting skills.


You take care of young people who’ve been remanded by a court. You’ll usually need specialist training to be this type of foster parent.

Specialist therapeutic

You provide specialist care to children and young people who have had traumatic life experiences, and whose needs and behaviours require therapeutic skills. This is for experienced foster parents who have had therapeutic training.

More information

You should contact us if you have any questions about how fostering works and we’ll arrange a discussion with you.